On the agenda at the UN Syria talks

 26 Nov 2017 - 9:19

On the agenda at the UN Syria talks


Geneva: The United Nations' Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has been accused of lacking clarity at times when he speaks. 

But when it comes to the topics on the agenda at the peace talks he mediates, his focus is clear: the so-called "four baskets".

Three of the baskets were laid out in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which passed in 2015, and a fourth on terrorism was added later at the insistence of the Damascus regime. 

The eighth round of UN-backed Syria talks opens in Geneva on Tuesday.

Here is what's in the four baskets on the agenda: 

- Governance -

Resolution 2254 calls for the establishment of "credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance" in Syria. 

The main opposition High Negotiations Committee insists that governance means "political transition" and specifically the removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power. 

Regime negotiators have refused to engage on the issue of Assad's future in previous rounds. 

- New constitution -

A primary focus of the upcoming round of talks is a new Syrian constitution, according to the UN. 

Neither the regime nor opposition camps have outlined their visions for the charter, but have discussed ideas on the subject with de Mistura.

- Supervised elections -

The UN Security Council intially called for elections of the "highest international standards of transparency and accountability ... under supervision of the United Nations" to be held by the middle of 2017. 

While that deadline has gone by, the UN has said that making progress on plans for elections in Syria will be the other main point of emphasis at talks this week. 

- Terrorism -

A subject not mentioned in Resolution 2254, Damascus insisted earlier this year that it be added to the official talks agenda. 

Assad's chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari has a habit of referring to opposition representatives as "terrorists".

The opposition says terrorism is just a way of avoiding talking about Assad and elections.